Ten Tips for Condo Buyers
Square footage can be measured any number of ways in condominium plans. Don't believe numbers
presented to you. If exact measure is important, carry a measuring tape,
and work consistently from the inside measure of condo apartments. Divide
the asking price by the number of square feet to arrive at dollar-per-foot
costs that you can compare.
- Parking can
be an uncovered stall, a covered stall, indoors but unheated or indoors heated
and secured. Its legal status can be either assigned common-area space, or
legally-titled ownership. If it is assigned, it should be protected by a formal
- Construction of condominiums can vary dramatically. Concrete obviously is more long lasting
and generally quieter than frame construction, but "post-tensioned" concrete
construction can have problems requiring maintenance. Concrete transmits tapping
sounds, while wood-frame buildings can quiver slightly under heavy footsteps.
Quality will be your best investment, and I can identify the construction
types and any sound issues as you shop.
- Conversion of
rental buildings to condominium ownership has created both opportunities and
pitfalls. Some older high-quality concrete buildings have become condos at
very affordable prices. As well, some well-built wood-frame rental buildings
are being sold as condo apartments at prices that compete with the cost of
renting! Yet some low-quality rental buildings converted to condominium ownership
are simply not worth buying into.
- Heating is an
important issue in condo buildings. In apartment condos it is usually central
hot-water heat, which means the cost is absorbed by your monthly condo fees.
Older hot-water heating systems can at times be noisy, but I still prefer
it! Electric heat is convenient, quiet and controllable in each room, but
it's expensive. New in-floor radiant hot-water heat is wonderful for warm
toes, but if you turn the temperature down, it takes a while to respond.
- Renters will be found in any condo building,
as renting of units can no longer be prohibited by condo bylaws in Alberta.
That's good for your flexibility as an owner, but find out how many renters
are in the building. If it's primarily renters, largely investors own the
building, and they may not share your standards of operation and maintenance.
You may also find less of a sense of community in the building and on the
board of directors.
- Age mix of owners might seem a strange consideration,
but if you're a yuppie, do you want to live in a retirement home? And if you're
enjoying a quiet retirement, you probably want neighbors you can relate to
and make friends with. In short, condominium projects can become small communities
you choose the right one—you
can make many friends and enjoy an in-house
- Condo documents are necessary to evaluate any
condominium project before you buy. Sellers should have them on hand for you
to review on site, and if you have an agreement to purchase, they should be
handed to you without hesitation. These include the Condominium Plan, financial
statements and budget, the reserve fund study, minutes of the recent annual
general meeting and even board meeting minutes, so you have insight into how
the complex is being run. If you purchase, your lawyer will obtain an estoppel
certificate before closing, which will guarantee no surprises in the monthly
condo fee or charges owed by the seller.
- Orientation of the condo is important if it's
an apartment facing only one direction, less so if it's a townhouse or duplex
bungalow condominium with more exposures. How much sun does the home receive,
and is that sun hitting your bedroom windows at 5 a.m. during the summer?
You may prefer it, or you might hate it, so be aware of which way/s a home
faces and whether it will be bright enough, too hot or too dark for your needs.
- Real estate agents may be licensed to sell condominiums
as well as houses, but do they know what they're doing? Use a Realtor who
has taken condominium courses. If s/he has a real interest in condominium
ownership, s/he will be a member of the Canadian Condominium Institute. If
you are buying, Realtor services are at no cost to you, as the selling party
pays commission, so you might as well receive qualified representation and
advice. Whether buying or selling, you want nothing less than top-quality
condominium credentials, ability, experience and market knowledge from your